C G Jung and the Age of Aquarius



Definition: [Astrological Ages] The psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung [1875 - 1961 AD] was the main populariser of the concept of the Age of Aquarius. [He was not however the originator of the concept. See Paul Le Cour for more on this topic.]

Jung was already thinking about this subject in 1940, when the first reference to the concept appears in his published work. The concept appears fully formed, in one throw-away line, in a letter to H. G. Baynes, dated 12th August 1940, in a passage concerning the destruction of the temple of Karnak by an earthquake in 26 BC.

Jung writes: "1940 is the year when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius.  It is the premonitory earthquake of the New Age." [C G Jung Letters, Volume I, 1906-1950, p 285]*.

*[This brief comment indicates his indebtedness to prior work, notably on the question of when the Age of Aquarius would begin. However, whilst this was Jung's stance on the start date of the Age of Aquarius in 1940, by 1951 he had realised that he had been mislead - see footnote 84 below. See also the work of Edward Carpenter for a possible reason for this date.]

Below are excepts of what Jung wrote of the Age of Aquarius. The footnotes are his.

C G Jung 1951 AD [for the German-language Version], Aion [published in the Collected Works 9, Part II] Chapter IV, The Sign of the Fishes:

[In a private conversation with Margaret Ostrowski-Sachs concerning Aion, published in Conversations with C.G.Jung, Jung told her: "Before my illness I had often asked myself if I were permitted to publish or even speak of my secret knowledge. I later set it all down in Aion. I realized it was my duty to communicate these thoughts, yet I doubted whether I was allowed to give expression to them. During my illness I received confirmation and I now knew that everything had meaning and that everything was perfect."  Jung's illness was over by 1944.]

[142] If, as seems probable, the aeon of the fishes is ruled by the archetypal motif of the hostile brothers, then the approach of the next Platonic month, namely Aquarius, will constellate the problem of the union of the opposites.  It will then no longer be possible to write off evil as the mere privation of good; it's real existence will have to be recognized.  This problem can be solved neither by philosophy,  nor by economics, nor by politics, but only by the individual human being, via his experience of the living spirit...

[149] The northerly, or easterly fish, which the spring-point entered at about the beginning of our era83, is joined to the southerly, or westerly, fish by the so-called commissure.  This consists of a band of faint stars forming the middle sector of the constellation, and the spring-point gradually moved along its southern edge.  The point where the ecliptic intersects with the meridian at the tail of the second fish coincides roughly with the sixteenth century, the time of the Reformation, which as we know is so extraordinarily important for the history of Western symbols.  Since then the spring-point has entered the southern edge of the fish, and will enter Aquarius in the course of the third millennium84.   Astrologically interpreted, the designation of Christ as one of the fishes identified him with the first fish, the vertical one.  Christ is followed by the Antichrist at the end of time.  The beginning of the enantiodromia would fall, logically, midway between the two fishes.  We have seen that this is so.  The time of the Renaissance begins in the immediate vicinity of the second fish, and with it comes the spirit which culminates in the modern age85.

83 The meridian of the star "O" in the commissure passed through the spring-point in A.D. 11 and that of the star "a 113" in 146 BC.  Calculated on the basis of C. H. F. Peters and E. B. Knobel, Ptolemy's Catalogue of Stars: A Revision of the Almagest, Washington, 1915.

84 Since the delimitation of the constellations is known to be somewhat arbitrary, this date is very indefinite.  It refers to the actual constellation of fixed stars, not to the zodion noeton, i.e. the zodiac divided into sectors of 30º each.  Astrologically, the beginning of the next aeon, according to the starting point you select falls between AD 2000 and AD 2200.  Starting from the star "O" and assuming a Platonic month of 2 143 years, one would arrive at AD 2154 for the beginning of the Aquarian Age, and at AD 1997 if you start at star "a 113."  The latter date agrees with the longitude of the stars in Ptolemy's Almagest, p. 199, n. 1.

85 Modern astrological speculation likewise associates the Fishes with Christ: "The fishes... the inhabitants of the waters, are firstly an emblem of those whose life being hid with Christ in God, come out of the waters of judgment without being destroyed [and illusion to fishes that were not drowned in the deluge! C. G. J.] and shall find their true sphere where life abounds and death is not: where, forever surrounding with living water and drinking from it's fountain they 'shall not perish, but have everlasting life.' ... Those who shall dwell for ever in the living water are one with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Living One."  (E. M. Smith, The Zodia,, pp. 280f, London, 1906.)

C G Jung 1959 AD: Flying Saucers, Introduction, pp xi - xii: It is difficult form a correct estimate of the significance of contemporary events, and the danger that our own judgment will remain caught in subjectivity is great. So I am fully aware of the risk I am taking in proposing to communicate my views concerning certain contemporary events, which seem to me important, to those patient enough to hear me. I refer to all those reports reaching us from all corners of the earth, rumours of round objects that flash through the troposphere and stratosphere, and go by the name of "Flying Saucers", soucoupes, disks and "Ufos" (Unidentified Flying Objects). These rumours, or the possible physical existence of such objects, seem to me so significant that I feel myself compelled, as once before when events were brewing of fateful consequence for Europe, to sound a note of warning. I know that, just as before, my voice is much too weak to reach the ear of the multitude. It is not presumption that drives me, but my conscience as a psychiatrist that bids me fulfill my duty and prepare those few who will hear me for coming events which are in accord with the end of an era. As we know from ancient Egyptian history, there are symptoms of psychic changes that always appear at the end of one Platonic month and at the beginning of another. They are, it seems, changes in the constellation of the psychic dominants, of the archetypes or "Gods" as they used to be called, which bring about, or accompany, long-lasting transformations of the collective psyche. This transformation started within the historical tradition and left traces behind within it, first in the transition of the Age of Taurus to that of Aries, and then from Aries to Pisces, whose beginning coincides with the rise of Christianity. We are now nearing that great change which may be expected when the spring-point enters Aquarius. It would be frivolous of me to conceal from the reader that reflections such as these are not only exceedingly unpopular but come perilously close to those turbid fantasies which becloud the minds of world-improvers and other interpreters of "signs and portents". But, I must take this risk, even if it means putting my hard-won reputation for truthfulness, trustworthiness and scientific judgment in jeopardy. I can assure my readers that I do not do this with a light heart. I am, to be quite frank, concerned for all those that are unprepared by the events in question and disconcerted by their incomprehensible nature. Since, so far as I know, no one else has yet felt moved to examine and set forth the possible psychic consequences of this foreseeable change, I deem it my duty to do what I can in this respect. I undertake this thankless task in the expectation that my chisel will make no impression on the hard stone it meets.

Searching For a New Age in the 20th Century...

5:  Searching for a New Age in the 20th Century... 
5a:  Gerald Massey & the Sign of the Waterman [c 1880 AD] 
5b:  Helena Blavatsky and the Hindu Epoch [1887 AD] 
5c:  Aleister Crowley and the Age of Horus [1904 AD] 
5d:  Edward Carpenter and the Age of Aquarius [1929 AD] 
5e:  Paul Le Cour and the Age of Aquarius [1937 AD] 
5f:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Aquarius [1940 AD] 
5g:  Alice Bailey and the 'Ageless Wisdom' [1944 AD] 
5h:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Pisces [1950] 
5i:  Jung's 'Platonic' Month [1950 AD] 
5j:  Jung's 'Platonic' Year [1950 AD] 
5k:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Capricornus [1961 AD] 

© Dr Shepherd Simpson, Astrological Historian


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